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Partisan Waves - Interview

  by John Clarkson

published: 8 / 3 / 2016

Partisan Waves - Interview


John Clarkson speaks to indie rock trio Partisan Waves, who will be playing at our Bands' Night at the Sebright Arms in London on the 12th March, about their debut EP, 'Something Cracked'

When Partisan Waves first spoke to Pennyblackmusic in April of last year, the South London-based indie rock trio had been together in its current line-up just three months, and, while their early demos showed immense promise, they were yet to release any music or to even play a gig. Now that has all changed. Partisan Waves, which consists of Mark Rowland (vocals, bass guitar), Paul Webber (guitar, backing vocals) and Daniel Brown (drums, vocals), have played several shows to highly enthusiastic audiences and will be launching their debut CD EP, ‘Somewhat Cracked’, at a Pennyblackmusic Bands’ night on Saturday 12th April at the Sebright Arms in Bethnal Green in London. The four-song ‘Somewhat Cracked’ is a classic indie rock record. While its main influences of the Wedding Present, Husker Du and Pavement are all old school, it has both musically and creatively such energy and breeziness and occasional humour that it also seems fresh and contemporary. The jangling guitars of the title track push exuberantly upwards to conclude in a wall of sparkling noise rock and a wonderful kiss-off line from Mark, directed at its self-pitying, apathetic main character for allowing himself to give up on the world: “It is not possible but it might be improbable/Just to get your head out of your arse and re-establish some fucking contact.” ‘Airs and Graces’ features fine call-and-response volleying on their instruments from Mark and Webber, and finishes in a burst of wah-wah guitar from Webber. The lo-fi ‘In the Barn’ drops the pace slightly and has a hilariously spiky vocal from Brown, whose voice has the magnetic rawness and charm of Wreckless Eric or Dan Treacy from the Television Personalities, about another monotonous night down the pub. The short, stabbing punk rock of ‘Don’t Mean It’ brings ‘Somewhat Cracked’ to a close in another rush of jangling noise. The three members of Partisan Waves spoke to Pennyblackmusic about ‘Somewhat Cracked’. PB: You’ve been in a band for exactly a year. What have the best things about being in a band over that period? MR: The progress we’ve made has been amazing. If I think about where we were this time last year – Dan had just come in, Paul and I had been playing with a drum machine, trying to work out how to play these songs properly, and in less than twelve months, we turned all the existing material into something really good, brought in new songs, developed and honed our sound to a point that’s light years ahead of where we were. I feel like we’re generally good now. DB: For me, it’s great to be in a band playing songs I actually like. In the last band I was in, I didn’t like any of the songs that we were playing. To play original songs that I enjoy playing, for once, that’s brilliant. PW: Actually getting to use all the expensive gear I’ve bought over the years. That’s the best bit. And that first gig; seeing what we’re doing actually working after we practiced for so long. Watching people actually like our music. PB: What, if anything, has not worked out so well? MR: I guess it took a bit of a long time to get going in the beginning, due to our circumstances, with Dan having to go on a training course for a few months. We probably could have got gigging earlier in the year. DB: We peaked just when I had to stop for three months, when we felt like it was moving forward. PW: It was stop-start. But since that big stop, it hasn’t stopped, if that makes sense. MR: We’ve moved on really, really quickly. And at our gigs, a lot of people have said positive things to us after our sets, which has been great. PB: You have recorded your debut EP, which will be launched at the Pennyblackmusic bands night on the 12th March. Your music in recent months seems to have taken on an increasing pop edge, and these seem to be your poppiest songs. What were the criteria in selecting the songs, was it simply that? PW: Yep. MR: Pretty much PW: They’re our catchiest songs. DB: It are the ones that, when people have listened to them, have got the most positive responses. MR: They’re certainly among our most immediate songs. DB: 'In the Barn was the first one of mine where you guys said, “Yeah, we’ve got to play that.” And 'Somewhat Cracked' as well, I was drawn to that song out of all of yours. PW: We’ve always tried to write catchy songs. They’re all just pop songs, really. MR: Though I think we’ve moved away from one thing as time has gone on. We are adding more subtle elements of the songs, and some of them have gone in directions we weren’t expecting. It’s definitely been nice to mix it up a bit. I like bands that play a variety of styles, but within the parameters of their own sound. I mean we’re still pretty solidly in the guitar pop/indie rock arena at the moment. PB: How does the songwriting in the band work – do each of you bring the lyrics and basic tune into the rehearsal room and work on it as a trio, or does it work in a different way? PW: I think that we’ve learned that it’s best to bring it in in its most skeletal form possible and build it up as a band. MR: And to avoid coming in with any preconceptions about how it should sound. Have some ideas, sure, but be willing to chuck those ideas away. From my point of view, I always try to keep the songs basic anyway, but generally, when we work on songs as a band, it always ends up being much better than what I originally had in my head. PB: The 'Somewhat Cracked' EP was recorded in North Kent, the first time you’ve worked in a studio. How long did it take to record it? MR: No time at all. It was like two days. PW: Two of the songs were pretty much done in one take. MR: I’m not sure what else we can say about that. PB: Was the experience what you expected? PW: I slept a lot. MR: It was pretty much what I expected it to be like: busy, but with long periods of waiting around. DB: The first day, for me, was quite gruelling, because I did most of my tracks then. The second day was slower for me, because most of the drum parts were down. MR: The first day, for you, was intense. From my point of view, the drums and guitar take time, but with the bass, you pretty much just plug in and play. I needed to do your song a few times, because we worked on the bass line a little bit, but it wasn’t that difficult. My day was vocal day. It was good fun, and I was surprised we took to it as well as we did. PB: When we last spoke to you, you hadn’t played any gigs. Now you have some under your belt. How did you get those gigs? MR: It’s pretty much all down to Simon Berridge from Bromide, who has been a very early supporter of ours. I knew Simon a little bit already and played him a very early demo of 'Airs and Graces', which is on the EP. It was basically just me playing guitar and singing in my living room, but he liked it, so he booked us for his next Scratchy Records gig. We’ve played with Bromide a couple of times, now. They’re a great band and we share a lot of influences without sounding much alike, so we feel quite an affinity with them. PB: What did you learn from gigging? MR: That our songs are good, and that we shouldn’t worry too much and enjoy the gig no matter how it goes. PB: Mark, you’ve just become a father. How will affect what you’re able to do with the group? MR: I’m quitting. I’m not going to do it anymore. No, seriously, I took a few weeks off from the band – basically I took paternity leave – then we got back on with it. We’ve got an EP to promote! I’m hoping my son will learn to love music as much as I do, and will hopefully be able to come to one of our gigs one day. He does already like music and is really interested in different sounds. He quite likes the Stones, so he’s not doing too bad for a month old. DB: We’re going to get him doing piano lessons so he can join the band. MR: Yeah. He starts next week. PB: How many goals that you set yourself as a band have you managed to achieve a year later? What are your goals for the coming year? MR: Well, I think we just said we want to play some gigs and maybe get a demo together. We’ve achieved that, so I think we’ve done pretty well. PW: Well I think we’ve gone beyond that, because we have a properly recorded EP. DB: I think this year, we just want to get out there a bit more really. Play to more people. MR: Yeah. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to record some more as well, but that depends on how much we can save up. I’m hoping we can get the EP out to a few places, and hopefully it will get us some more interest – at least get us some more gigs. We have a few things lined up already, so it looks like it’s going to be a good year.

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